Sunday, 16 December 2007

Laptop bling

2 posts in a week! I must be sick or something.

In Spring a friend showed me his new laptop, running a new window manager - something called Beryl - OMG! It rocked. I was as impressed as the first time I saw a Windows/Mouse interface, or a Web Browser. Computers should be fun to use and this showed how! At that time though I didn't have the time to play around with such hardware (which surely required the very latest bitchin' graphics card).

Fast-forward to December. I've recently completed redecorating my daughter's bedroom, and thought I'd let her have my laptop (semi-) permanently installed in there. Despite being a computer geek, the hardware I own is usually cobbled together from spare parts picked up at jumble sales or bought off eBay. Laptop in question is a 1GHz Celeron with 384Mb memory (only recently upgraded from 128) and a slow 10Gb HD (where I need to keep a copy of XP which is used about 4GB left for everything else). Its a very basic workhorse and was bottom of the range even when new.

I thought I'd do a reinstall for her. Previously it had a series of Suse installs, currently at 9.3. Everything worked, but I felt it was rather bloatware, and her main interest would be in playing games - Suse do not provide a good portfolio of installable games. I had a look at the top 10 on Distrowatch, and decided to try out PC Linux OS. This can run as a Live CD before installing which is a very handy way to check if it supports your hardware (another area where Linux is now actually leading the other OS vendors!). After bottong it up and liking it, installation was painless and quick handling the Linksys PCMCIA WiFi card, sound and everything else.

After setting it all up, I noticed there was an option to run a "3D Window Manager" so I turned it on not expecting very much. WOW.

OK, so not all the effects work (its the most basic video chipset on this thing) I don't get Windows going up in flames or appearing from sparkles - but the wobble, expand, and I can rotate the Desktop cube - indeed the only falut is that it all happens so quickly/smoothly, if you blink you'll miss it.

Meanwhile everything else works really well - the single CD it installs from had an impressive amount of software on it - and more is easily added from the internet. The only thing which doesn't seem to work is SuperKaramba where the theme browser only list the most popular/highest rated and newest (you can't brows the main catalog from the application) also, liquid weather refused to work (IMHO the only reason for having SK) and SK loses its settings each time you log out. But I was really only playing around with it for extra eye-candy (I still can't believe I'm trying to demo-up that old banger of a laptop!)

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